This article originally appeared in Cycling News.
Recently there have been a number of calls for more equality for women in cycling, and while the ASO director Christophe Prudhomme dismissed the idea of a parallel women’s Tour de France, and UCI presidential candidates Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson continue to try to appeal to the female racers with rhetoric, one organisation is leading by example: the Momentum Sports Group, which runs the UnitedHealthcare men’s Professional Continental team, announced today it will add an equivalent UCI-registered women’s team for 2014.
While it is too early to name riders or staff, General Manager Mike Tamayo confirmed to Cyclingnews that the team of 10 to 12 women will be clad in the same “blue train” kit as the men, and will focus mainly on the domestic circuit, but with some international races as well.
Tamayo said that the time is right to launch this project, and that adding the team is the “right thing to do” in order to help further women’s cycling. “It’s good for the sport. A team like ours, with a decent budget – we take care of our men really well – if we take care of a women’s team, manage it properly and bring that group of 10 or 12 women to a more professional level, that’s good for the sport. If that motivates other Pro Continental teams or WorldTour teams to find 10-12 women and help them to be more professional, that continues to grow the sport. That’s what needs to happen.
“It’s not about prize money or paychecks at this point, I think it’s more about growing the sport, and where that money needs to go is into infrastructure. The athletes today aren’t going to necessarily benefit from the work we’re doing today, they’re going to benefit in 10 years. Big changes don’t happen overnight, and when you try to force big changes, they come tumbling down.”
In recent years, more well-established men’s teams have begun to fund parallel women’s teams than ever before: WorldTour teams Argos-Shimano, Lotto Belisol, Belkin (Rabo-Liv/Giant) and Orica-GreenEdge, Pro Continental teams RusVelo and Topsport Vlaanderen, and Continental squads BigMat-Auber 93 and Optum Pro Cycling all have teams of both genders.
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